Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Maybe It's Definite

Sometimes when I pay a visit to Merriam I am gravely disappointed.  I've grown accustomed to finding a flock of definitions about a word, which in turn engages my brain along the line of comprehension.  No such flock exists with the word maybe.  Merriam defines it with a mere & paltry perhaps

That's it?  One word?  Perhaps?  Now off you go!  It hardly seemed worth the visit. 

Well, it'll have to do.  Because today the word maybe puzzles me.  Actually, it annoys me.

Why do we have such a word in our vocabulary anyway?  Shouldn't our yes mean yes, and our no mean no (Matthew 5:33-37)?  Where's the room for maybe in that?  

It seems to me that the maybes of life are wiggly little ducks & dodges that permit me to live in the lukewarm or uncommitted, or to say far more on a subject than I actually know.  Never smart (Ecclesiastes 5:2) !   

Oh, I know ... it's hardly humble to be TOO certain on any given subject.  Maybe a maybe is useful on some level because, afterall, we don't know what we don't know?   

But ... then ... maybe ... that would put the maybe into the category of the speculative.  I'm not sure that's such a bad thing, provided we own the speculation and not relegate it to the category of factMaybes aren't that.  Yet it's funny how often they become so:  say or believe something long enough and it migrates automatically from one camp to another, or back again (just watch the political news).

And, have you ever noticed how often the word maybe is followed by a question mark? What's up with that, anyway?

I viewed a fabulous nature program about Iceland the other day.  The photography & scenary were breath-taking.  The history compelling.  When it came to topography & geology, it was riveting.  They shifted from the general to the specific, focusing on the mountain & rock formations there.  With nary a hint of doubt or humility, we were factually informed that the maybes of their formation absolutely refuted the creation narrative.  Huh? 

Here was a prime example of maybes (aka theory) shifting to doctrine (certainties). 

OK, so now that I've thoroughly annoyed you too, let me offer a wee bit of hope:

We can't & don't know everything.

Maybe that'll clear it all up. 


Ray Barnes said...

A true piscean Kathleen, like me spends there entire life in a haze of uncertainty. Maybe and perhaps or the more grammatically incorrect "could be" are the tramlines on which we run our uncertain doubting lives.
Take that word away and our entire crumbling shifting-sand foundation collapses.
Give me a maybe over a definitely any day.

skoots1mom said...

perhaps the Nature Show doesn't KNOW what it's talking about regarding creation, hahahah!

LisaShaw said...


This is priceless maybe? (just kidding). This is all the way good!

My hubby and I have had these talks about the word "maybe". We, like you, are not too fond of it because as you said, can't our yes be yes and our no be no?! But the truth is as you said, we can't and don't know everything so maybe there is a need for "maybe".

But to me it's like saying present rather than yes or no. As a child, one of my brothers would say, yes-no-maybe so. It would drive me crazy. I'd always say, make up your mind--yes or no (hehehe). Your post brought it all back for me.

Kathleen, you make me think. You offer messages within a message and I love that!

Hugs and love my friend.

RCUBEs said...

You always catch those words that otherwise will not even catch our attention...And most important, I like the way you define them and bring out the truth. Always in His light.

No more "maybe's"... :)

Sonja said...

MAYBE I just have to quote this again...
"It seems to me that the maybes of life are wiggly little ducks & dodges that permit me to live in the lukewarm or uncommitted, or to say far more on a subject than I actually know. Never smart (Ecclesiastes 5:2) !"...
I just smile at your spot on expression of what I completely understand when you say it, but could never have thought to say it so well. (did that make sense??)

The whole thing sure makes sense to me. :)

Rebecca said...

The bottom line for sure! "We can't and don't know everything". Or putting it another way, "He's God and I'm not." No maybes about that.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

A good "maybe" gets me out of trouble sometimes. I'm not ready to give mine up. Maybe in another day or so. Maybe not.


Denise said...

Amen, no one knows everything.

Peggy said...

Maybe. I confess that's a word I use maybe too much. So I don't have to commit to yes.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Love the cartoon! It's the perfect illustration for the subject.

Terri Tiffany said...

Your posts always make me think--did it again this am!!

Just a little something from Judy said...

I can't remember ever sitting back with a cup of coffee and reflecting on the word "maybe" until today. Come to think of it, I do use that word frequently. I feel like life consists of "maybes" for me, especially in dealing with all the little ones that I find myself surrounded by. I also tend to be a somewhat non-committal type person, so maybe leaves me free to do that. Whatever, I appreciate your take on the word and it will cause me to think of you the next time I use it. Great insights!